My colleague, Kimberly Pierce, and I are alternating weeks recapping Game of Thrones this season. I did the recap this week, so she’ll “face off” with her take in a separate post. (Get it? Like with FACE MAGIC.)
OH. MY. Game of Thrones. I love how little time this season wastes between bombshell moments, and episode five, “Eastwatch,” maintained such a dizzying pace with big bombs that one of the most significant ones almost slipped under the radar because it was delivered quickly and quietly.
The episode opens with confirmation that it’s Bronn (Jerome Flynn) who has indeed saved Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) from Drogon’s fire, as the two crawl gasping out of the pond. Jaime recognizes Daenerys’s (Emilia Clarke) physical military strength now, and he knows that from that perspective Cersei (Lena Headey) can not win. What’s worse, he’ll have to go back to King’s Landing and tell her that… and that it was Olenna Tyrell who killed Joffrey.
Back on the other side of the pond, Dany is telling the captured Lannister forces that they can choose between bending the knee to her or dying. Randyll (James Faulkner) and Dickon Tarly (Tom Hopper) refuse. Although their allegiances have been a bit “flexible” of late, they will not acknowledge a foreign invader as the queen of Westeros over a woman who has lived there all her life. Despite Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) practically begging her to send them to the Wall or put them in a cell, Dany backs up her threat with action. She condemns them to die, then unleashes Drogon on them. As they fall to ashes, every remaining member of the Lannister army bends the knee to her with fear in their eyes.
When Dany returns to Dragonstone, Jon (Kit Harington) is waiting, broodingly, on a cliff. He watches her fly in and land behind him, and then as she watches from a snarling Drogon’s back, Jon approaches the dragon as though it’s not more than a feisty horse. He moves slowly, removing one of his gloves to allow the great, scaly child of the Queen of Dragons to sniff his hand before he reaches in to stroke its muzzle. Drogon does the dragon equivalent of purring, and Dany descends to shoot sparks of desire at Jon.
They’re sharing a nice moment, bonding over how difficult it is to help people and dancing around what Davos (Liam Cunningham) meant when he said Jon took a knife to the heart for his people, when REUNION ALERT! The Dothraki approach to present a “friend” to the Queen: Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) has returned. Dany is overcome with emotion on seeing her loyal champion, and suddenly we have the makings of a love triangle. The men size each other up almost immediately, and although nothing is said, you can tell this is going to get complicated.
So, at this point Jon is still alone in his focus on the Army of the Dead, but things take a sharp turn when the Three Eyed Raven, Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), wargs into an unkindness of ravens and travels in them beyond the Wall. He sees the Army of the Dead moving steadily towards Eastwatch, and when the birds come near the Night King, they scatter and Bran is kicked out of them. He turns to the maester waiting with him under the weirwood and tells him they need to send ravens to everyone right away.
Bran’s missive hits the Citadel fogies right in their incredulous spot, but fortunately Sam (John Bradley) is in the room while they’re discussing the improbability that a warning from a crippled boy and a three-eyed raven warrants their attention. Sam makes an impassioned plea to the jaded academics to take the warning seriously and use their weight to urge all the lords in the Seven Kingdoms to send men to the Wall. They only agree to research things further, via letter, and a frustrated Sam storms out before they move on to gossiping about his recently burned-to-death family members.
Jon doesn’t mess around when he gets the raven, though. Not only does he learn that Arya (Maisie Williams) and Bran are both alive and at Winterfell, but now he knows that the threat of the Dead is closer than he’d thought. With Davos, Dany, Varys (Conleth Hill) and Tyrion, he hatches a plan to get the men he needs by going north of the Wall to capture a White Walker and bringing it to King’s Landing to show Cersei. Jorah immediately volunteers to join him, eager to serve his Queen. Davos agrees to smuggle Tyrion into King’s Landing to plead with Jaime to get Cersei on board with the idea of meeting Dany for the sake of armistice in the face of the greater threat to the north.
Davos and Tyrion successfully land in a little-used cove below King’s Landing, and Tyrion reflects that he hasn’t been there since he killed his father. Davos returns that he hasn’t been there since Tyrion killed his son with wildfire, something I think we’d all kind of forgotten happened in the Battle of the Blackwater. Then Davos surprises Tyrion by leaving the boat behind to attend to business of his own in Flea Bottom.
Tyrion uses a passage Davos has recommended to access the dragon-skull-filled basement of the Red Keep, where Bronn has tricked Jaime into meeting with him under the pretense of doing some discreet training. This REUNION is less amicable than Jorah and Dany’s, but Tyrion succeeds in getting his message to Jaime without incident.
Davos’ business in King’s Landing turns out to be far more interesting, as he makes his way to the blacksmith shop of (REUNION ALERT!) Gendry (Joe Dempsie)!
Davos jokes that he thought Gendry might “still be rowing,” since that’s where we saw him last as Davos saved him from imminent sacrifice by Melisandre by sneaking him away in a rowboat. Gendry says he’s been waiting for something to happen, and he recognizes that this must be it, so without hesitation, or knowing what Davos wants, he grabs his warhammer and joins Davos and Tyrion as they head back to Dragonstone, taking out a couple of suspicious Lannister guards along the way.
When they get to Dragonstone, Davos is like: “Be cool. It’ll just complicate everything further if anyone knows you’re Robert Baratheon’s bastard.”
However, the minute Gendry meeds Jon Snow, he’s like: “Hi! I’m Robert Baratheon’s bastard son Gendry! Our dads were pals! You’re short! Let’s fight together! I’m great with a warhammer like my dad was!”
And Jon is like: “You’re fun. I like you.”
If you’re hoping this means that Jon and Gendry are on their way to Winterfell to make Arya’s day, you’re in for a disappointment. They go straight to the Wall, where they pull Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) into their plan, which leads to the last REUNION ALERT I have for you tonight.
Tormund checks and double-checks that they’re serious about wanting to go north of the Wall to capture a White Walker to prove that the Army of the Dead is real to the queen with the dragons and the one who “f***s her brother.” Once convinced, he tells them that he has some other guys in a cell who also want to go find the Army of the Dead: The Hound (Rory McCann), Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye) and Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer).
In that cage we’ve got most of the folks left on Arya’s kill list, and outside is the reason two of them are on it. Gendry jumps forward to remind Beric and Thoros of how they sold him to Melisandre. Everyone in the room has reasons to mistrust each other, but Jon evaluates the situation and decides that anyone who is breathing is on the same side. He authorizes the release of the prisoners, and together this band of misfits passes through the Wall in search of DANGER.
In the aftermath of his meeting with Tyrion, Jaime did go to Cersei to pitch the armistice meeting with Dany, so if the group returns with a White Walker, they will be able to take it to King’s Landing to seek support in their campaign against the Dead. Cersei also surprised Jaime with some big news: she is pregnant again, and she intends to acknowledge him as the baby’s father. The sheep may not like what the lions are doing, but the lions don’t care.
Meanwhile at Winterfell, Arya and Sansa (Sophie Turner) prove that years apart and many scrapes with death aren’t enough to override the dynamic between these sisters. Arya is watching the way Sansa wields her power as Jon’s substitute, and she can tell that although Sansa doesn’t want to wish ill on Jon, she can’t help thinking about what it would be like to succeed him as the ruler of the North.
Arya is also surveilling Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), leading me to worry about her for the first time in ages. She may have all the tactical skillz to take him down in combat, but she has proven that she doesn’t really think like a schemer. (Remember how easily the Waif found her when she left the House of Black and White?)
She sees Littlefinger whispering with different folks around the castle, and when he takes possession of a small scroll he confirms is the only copy of whatever it is in Winterfell, she breaks into his room to read it. It’s the letter Cersei forced Sansa to write to her mother and brother when Ned Stark was arrested, hoping it would help her family. (And it was Littlefinger’s idea.) It reads:
“Robb, I write to you with a heavy heart. Our good king Robert is dead, killed from wounds he took in a boar hunt. Father has been charged with treason. He conspired with Robert’s brothers against my beloved Joffrey and tried to steal his throne. The Lannisters are treating me very well and provide me with every comfort. I beg you: come to King’s Landing, swear fealty to King Joffrey and prevent any strife between the great houses of Lannister and Stark. Your faithful sister, Sansa”
Fingers crossed that Arya recognizes she’s being manipulated by Littlefinger. Stark girls gotta stick together.
OK! So! I saved the best for last!
When Sam left the old maesters in a huff, he went home to Gilly (Hannah Murray) and baby Sam with a pile of transcription to do, per usual. He’s fuming as he works, impatient with Gilly sharing fun facts from one of the books he’ll have to copy:
Gilly: Do you know how many steps there are in the Citadel?
Gilly: 15,782. Guess how many windows are in the great Sept of Baelor!
Sam: None anymore.
Gilly: That’s true. This High Septon Maynard, he recorded everything. He even recorded his own bowel movements…. What does “annulment” mean?
Sam: It’s when a man sets aside his lawful wife.
Gilly: Maynard says here that he issued an annulment for Prince Rhaegar and remarried him to someone else at the same time in a secret ceremony in Dorne. Is that a common thing in the South?
— GoT Things (@GoTthings_) August 14, 2017
Sam doesn’t even hear her!!! He’s so worked up about the maesters ignoring the raven from Bran that he misses that GILLY HAS JUST TOLD HIM THAT JON SNOW IS THE LEGITIMATE HEIR TO THE TARGARYEN THRONE! (And Dany’s nephew! Maybe emphasis on the “ew”?)
Sam jumps up from the table, scurries to the Citadel, steals every book and scroll that might help defeat the Army of the Dead and packs his little family into a wagon, unaware of his father and brother’s deaths, likely on his way to Winterfell and oblivious to the importance of what Gilly just stumbled upon. (Although hopefully not for long!)
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